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Technologies in Modern Architectures and How They are Changing the Landscape Design

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Architecture
Wordcount: 2803 words Published: 8th Feb 2020

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As people living in urban area are feeling distressed from the concrete and glass surrounding them, some beautifully designed landscape brought a shine of light into urban living. Technology has helped designers nowadays to achieve their wild dreams and made modern metropolis more accessible. In this research paper, I’m going to analyze three cases of modern landscape design that infuses clever technologies into the construction and how they have made urban living more welcoming.

List of Illustrations

Illustration 1. Overview of the Freeway Park (“Overview”, n.d.)

Illustration 2. The paving of High Line (“The paving of High Line”, n.d.)

Illustration 3.Overlook of Princess Diana Memorial Fountain (Treib, 2011)

Technologies in Modern Architectures and

How They are Changing the Landscape Design

 The rapid urbanization all around the world over the last century makes proper urban planning crucial for people to embrace urban living. Growing up in Beijing, one of the most crowded cities in the world, I found urban living inconvenient and oppressive. However, as new technologies are being implemented in urban planning, they help to make urban living in some of the most populous cities more than bearable. Technology created the crowded cities we live in today and now technologies should help landscape design to create beautiful architecture for people to stay in rather than just achieve functionality of the architecture. In this paper I will analyze and discuss the technologies behind Freeway Park, High Line and Diana Memorial Fountain.

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 Landscape architecture has never lacked the implementations of technologies. Looking back, the construction of wonders like the Great Pyramids and the hanging garden all used inventive methods that we couldn’t even comprehend now. Nowadays, though the landscapes aren’t as majestic as the Great Pyramids, the technologies behinds them are equally impressive. Rather than building an architecture that focus on its size, the technologies in modern landscape architectures seek to accommodate urban living.

Freeway Park

The Freeway Park was a project picked up by the city of Seattle in 1969. It was designed by landscape architect Lawrence Halprin and its construction was not finished until 1976 and it was the first park built on top of a freeway. Although the viability of the park was widely debated before it was finished due to the lack of funding and its potential influence of the freeway’s design on downtown, the park was considered an overdue attempt to reduce the impact of Interstate 5 on the residents of downtown Seattle (Becker, 2003). The finished Freeway Park brought rare public open space to Seattle’s First Hill, one of the most populated areas in the Pacific Northwest. Many events are hosted in the park each week and with a cleverly designed waterfall to block the noise of traffic, it provides precious opportunity for the people living in a city full of concrete and glass to experience the beauty of nature.

The brilliance of the Freeway Park is beyond being a recreational area. The thoughts and creativity behind the project were what made this park a great case of modern landscape design. Being one of the most densely populated area and a once a polluted area, First Hill wasn’t an ideal place to fit a park in. There were several challenges to building a park in such a place. Firstly, acquiring a piece of land for in downtown Seattle was nearly impossible. Thanks to the clever design and strong modern material, the use of air rights to connect two sides of the interstate freeway also created a considerable space of 6 acres acting as a lid over Interstate 5. This design was unprecedented and was what made it stood out in the competition and eventually selected as the final plan.

Another challenge was to grow plants on the concrete bridge. According to the local horticulturist Betty Miller (1979),” No more unfavorable environment for growing plants can be found in Seattle.” There were several obstacles to growing planation in the city, drainage, pollution and maintenance (Miller, 1979). Providing good drainage for plants on top of a bridge was not easy. Just letting water flow by the surface would cause the root of the plant lack absorption. Thus, an elaborate drainage system was used to help retaining water for the root of the plants and guide the water to the sewers at the same time. Pollution was an obstacle that couldn’t be overlooked. The ozone made many plants hard to survive in the urban environment. Maintenance was a problem that could be easily overlooked during the process and was also the weak point of this project. The planters for the project should carefully pick the appropriate plant for the environment. The original choice of plants aimed to create a naturalistic forest to for people to respite from the tension of the city. While this was a good prospect, little variety of plants survived till today (Easton, 2008).

Overall, the Freeway Park, being the first park constructed over a freeway, has inspired so many other cases on how we can utilize the space in urban areas with the technology we have. There might not be one specific breakthrough in a certain technology when analyzing this project, yet the implementation of tech is what truly make this case special.

High Line

 Similar to the Freeway Park, High Line is another project that creatively utilizes the rare space in urban area. The High Line is a park built on a 1.45-mile-long freight rail on Manhattan’s West Side. The rail road was abandoned since the 1980s and it was not until 2003 a competition for converting the infrastructure into a park was held. The design by James Corner Field Operations with Diller Scofidio + Renfro won the contest. The first part of the park was opened to public in 2009 and it quickly becomes the most well-known elevated park around the world. The team was inspired by the wild seeded rail track and infused their concept of ‘pathless’ into the landscape to create a natural experience for the visitors (Cilento, 2009).

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 Besides being a clever repurposing of an abandoned infrastructure, High Line was also built with features for environmental sustainability. One feature that stood out is its pavement. Unlike the situation of the Freeway Park, the design team understood that it was a very harsh environment for plants to grow, since the railway would be very hot in the summer and frigid cold in the winter. So instead of razing all the wild meadows that was already growing on the track, they decided to keep them since the seedling were clearly tolerant enough for the harsh weather. To save plants while still make the design savory, the team invented a brand-new type of paving for the project. The paving was designed to crack open and let the plant underneath to come through. What’s more, the paving also had open joints allowing rain water to fall through the joints and being collected there. It was said that the paving was able to retain eighty-percent of the water that fell on the High Line (Fehrenbacher, 2014). Another thing that made this a sustainable project was that the materials used in construction were either recyclable or sustainable. The environment-friendly nature of the project made this project truly exceptional. (Note to myself: Add more to this)

 The High Line is a great case demonstrating how technology can improve the design of modern landscape. The success of High Line has inspired many other projects in United States to repurpose the once abandoned infrastructure.

Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain

The Princess Diana Memorial Fountain was built to commemorate the death of Princess Diana of England in August 1997. The Memorial Fountain is located on the left bank of the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park, London. The total length of the 545 waters of different shapes is about 210m. Most of the water in the fountain is shallow and watery, with a depth of 1 foot (30 cm) (Walliss & Rahmann, 2016). The canal is naturally surrounded by a heart-shaped necklace. With the help of natural heights and artificial power, the fountain rushes from one end of the ring, from the two sides to the other end, and then through the reservoir into the pump so that it overlaps (Walliss & Rahmann, 2016).

Because of the relatively flat drop, the Diana fountain is almost impossible to detect when it is in the flat view. People can only walk into her to feel its majesty and grandeur (Treib, 2011). Here, people can feel the sound of drowning and experience the audio-visual feast in the different passages of the circular fountain, because this landscape design is realized by the strict control of modern technology (Treib, 2011). Designed by American landscape architect Catherine Gustafson, the work reflects its quiet and gentle landscape design (Treib, 2011).

The close combination of the fountain and the technology not only greatly enhances the lawn adjacent to the serpentine lake in Hyde Park, but also gathers tourists from all sides to the lawn. The water is ejected from the highest point at the southern end of the canal and then split into two streams in different directions with hydration in the middle (Walliss & Rahmann, 2016). The water flow in the eastern part of the canal traverses through the uneven surface of the bottom of the pool. The water flow in the western part of the fountain is quiet and stable, and the water flow finally gathers in the slightly wider water surface at the lower part of the canal (Walliss & Rahmann, 2016). The design embodies the perfect combination of nature and art and also shows the close connection between design and technology. The depth of the spring is only one foot. The surface of the stone is anti-slip, in order to hope that visitors can enter the fountain (Walliss & Rahmann, 2016).

The glory of Princess Diana’s memorial fountain is more than just a fountain. The ideas and ideas behind this project make this fountain a great example of modern landscape design. As a densely populated area, it used to be a heavily polluted area. However, in this landscape design, not only the design idea of integrating with nature is adopted, but also the landscape is presented in a proper way, and the material design process is rich in material and process innovation consciousness (Treib, 2011). This design explores the unique advantages of the land itself, and incorporates new elements, combined with the landscape architect’s understanding of the landscape, reflecting the relationship between design and technology.

This landscape design creates the beauty of natural gardens by the shape of plants that change from time to time. The use of elements such as Jian, Shan, water, and planting in accordance with the combination of topography shows a dazzling approach to gardening. To this day, the cloth garden technique that conforms to “fine, appropriate, and reasonable” creates a natural growth landscape, and is still full of vitality in the British natural garden.

Science and technology have played an important role in the construction of fountains. The construction of fountains requires bringing together professionals from all industries to work together. This includes the design and construction of “computer modeling experts, consultants, engineers, professional stonemasons, etc.” From the beginning of the design, the model uses the model to create a complex stone surface process that allows water to tumbling or tumbling or tumbling out of the bubble. The designers and experts in various industries work together to interpret the changes in spring water (Treib, 2011). The model interaction software used in the automotive industry to form accurate 3D models enables the design team to make detailed details of the circular granite fountain and the surrounding landscape, making it easy for designers to make decisions. This is also the first time that automotive software has been applied to architectural landscapes. In the later development process, the maintenance and protection of the fountain cannot be separated from the technology. The ingeniously designed fountain can block the traffic noise and provide a valuable opportunity for people living in the concrete city to experience the perfect combination of nature and technology (Ryan, 2012).


This paper mainly analyzes the three modern landscape design cases and how modern architecture technology changes landscape design in modern life. The technology of modern landscape architecture seeks to adapt to urban life rather than building a building that focuses on its size. When people living in the city are plagued by the surrounding concrete and glass, some beautifully designed landscapes bring a ray of sunshine to the city. Technology has helped designers realize their dreams and make modern metropolises more accessible. Injecting some clever science and technology into modern architecture can make our city life more popular. The highway park, thanks to its clever design and powerful modern materials, uses air rights to connect the sides of the interstate highway, creating a considerable 6-acre space. It inspired us how to use existing technology to make use of space in urban areas, and the realization of technology is the real special feature of this case. The high line shows how technology can improve the design of modern landscapes, and the success of High Line has inspired many other projects in the US to reuse the once-depleted infrastructure. The close combination of Princess Diana’s memorial fountain and technology not only greatly enhances the lawn adjacent to the serpentine lake in Hyde Park, but also gathers tourists from all sides to the lawn. The ingeniously designed fountain blocks traffic noise and provides a valuable opportunity for people living in concrete-filled cities to experience the beauty of nature and technology. Although this article has achieved some results, but limited by the author’s ability and time, there are still some shortcomings. The topic of how modern architectural technology changes landscape design remains to be studied by more scholars.


  • Becker, P. (2003) Plans for Freeway Park are announced in Seattle on October 16, 1969. Retrieved from https://historylink.org/File/4171
  • Easton, V. (2008) In the concrete jungle, Freeway Park will offer respite once again. Retrieved from https://www.seattletimes.com/pacific-nw-magazine/in-the-concrete-jungle-freeway-park-will-offer-respite-once-again/
  • Freeway Park: Past, Present, and Future? (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://tclf.org/content/freeway-park-past-present-and-future
  • Miller, B. (1979) Seattle’s Freeway Park. American Forests, 85(10), 29,30,46.
  • Cliento, K. (2009) The New York High Line officially open. Retrieved from: https://www.archdaily.com/24362/the-new-york-high-line-officially-open
  • Fehrenbacher, J. (2014) Landscape Architect James Corner On NYC’s High Line Park. Retrieved from: https://inhabitat.com/interview-architect-james-corner-on-the-design-of-high-line/
  • [Untitled illustration of Freeway Park]. Retrieved April 15, 2019 from http://freewayparkassociation.org/media-gallery/
  • [Untitled illustration of High Line]. Retrieved April 15, 2019 from https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/the-high-line/photos
  • Walliss, J., & Rahmann, H. (2016). Landscape Architecture and Digital Technologies: Re-conceptualising design and making. Routledge.
  • Treib, M. (2011). Meaning in Landscape Architecture and Gardens. Routledge.
  • Ryan, Z. (2012). Building with Water: Concepts Typology Design. Walter de Gruyter.


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